Achieving a likeness of an individual can be especially challenging. I recently began a portrait of the beautiful Dorna who is sitting for our shared model sessions. We will have at least 5 weeks with her and my goal is to make a completed portrait of her in oil using the "form" painting method.
More often than not, I struggle with the construction phase of the portrait and for me, achieving a likeness was always very time consuming. Now that I can use the mobile app, Miira for iOS, catching and correcting my mistakes has made the process easier, faster and more accurate. It's exciting for me to achieve a likeness quickly because I can move on to the painting phase, which is my favorite part!
In this post, I'll describe how I used Miira for iOS on my iPad to find and correct errors in my initial sketch by using shadow shapes and light shapes (which help to define a likeness).
For this portrait I am working on a Ray Mar Portrait Panel (oil primed linen). I use Cretacolor Charcoal Lead (soft) to make the initial drawing. When the charcoal drawing is corrected and finished, I use a solution of Gamsol and Alizarin Crimson oil paint to "ink" over the contour using a small drawing nib. When the "ink" is dry, I can wipe off all of the charcoal, leaving a pale contour drawing that is ready for the first pass, the full color underpainting. (I learned this painting method while studying with Ted Seth Jacobs and from
Anthony Ryder, www.anthonyryder.com).
These are the steps I took to catch and correct my mistakes in the initial drawing:
After taking a photo of Dorna from my easel position, I used the SHAPE
tool and with a stylus, I plotted out the shadow shapes on the screen.
I adjusted the opacity of the shape so that I could see Dorna's features
underneath the shape. Separating the shadow on the face from the
shadow on the neck is also useful.
Turning on the SKETCH screen, I can see and understand the abstract
quality of the shapes, which help to define the head "type". With the
OVERLAY feature turned on, I hold the live camera up to my drawing.
The shape is superimposed onto the drawing through the live camera
feed. I can see errors clearly, making it easy and quick to make the
Here, I used the LINE tool and a stylus to grasp a more specific image
of what the entire shadow and light shapes look like. Again, I can
superimpose the line drawing over my panel using the OVERLAY feature
to find additional errors.
When away from the model, looking at the photo of Dorna and my
drawing side by side helps me to compare line and shapes, while
continuing to check for likeness. With just a few adjustments to make,
I can finalize the contour and begin the painting process.
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Miira for iOS is available for download on the iTunes App Store. Learn more...